From the Beltway this can be done in 3 hours going at reasonable speeds. It has the fewest switchbacks of any route. And even with the wintry mix of this past friday night (the 13th even) the roads are very passable.
The only negative is that it took my wife to point this out to me.
( a truly humbling experience)
Like you, I have spent 3 years trying to discover the hidden "Northwest passage" to Timberline/Canaan, and like you, I've been frustrated again and again.
My two favorite routes currently are as follows:
For the shortest drive: WV-55 from Wardensville to Harmon and then WV-32 to the land of milk and honey. WV-55 follows the route of the new Corridor H, and currently 8 miles of the new road are open. Each new stretch that opens eliminates a switchback, so this route will get easier and easier as time goes by. Right now, you may be right: US-50 may be the shortest route, but the situation will rapidly change as more of the Corridor H route opens.
For the least number of switchbacks: I-68 to US-220 South. US-220 to WV-93, and then WV-93 to WV-32. The only switchback is the 4-mile ascent of the Allegheny Front outside of Scherr...
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-16-2002).]
The 55 route was my favorite for a while but the combination of wardensville speed traps, switchbacks aproaching the two major towns and finally the serpintine 10 mile climb from seneca rocks to canaan makes even my dog need medication since he can't hold onto a barf bag.
The Wardensville speed trap was mentioned last year on DCSki. As a result, I always go slowly through that town. I was once pulled over on 93 just before Scherr, and issued a warning by a very polite WV State Police officer, so I am cautious about that stretch as well. Essentially, I try hard to obey speed limits.
An alternative way to access 55 is to connect via 42 from Scherr. Have you tried that route? I may give it a shot on my next trip. I agree that the climb on 93 is the best way over the Allegheny Front.
Another question. Are there any good late night restaurants on the RT 50 access? How about on the 55 route? I often travel at night after rush hour and need to stop for dinner along the way. The Golden Anchor in Dry Fork is a good restaurant but it is always closed by the time I reach it.